Monday, May 16, 2016

Nada Yoga - Self - realisation through sound

It is as ancient as the days, the meditation upon sound that leads to inner peace, resilience and a closer understanding of our inherent wholeness. It is no accident that spiritual systems around the world have always used sound and music as a way of accessing the divine. Sound waves resonate with frequencies we can feel in our bodies, and in many cultures it has been recognized as both healing and meditative.

You will have felt sound, the rumbling of thunder, or a plane overhead, the sounding of a conch being blown or a big gong or bell, the climax of the 1812 overture or a great rock and roll drum solo. Remember that feeling in your body, thrilling and primal. You are tuning into the power of Nada Yoga.

We have probably all instinctively used the healing power of sound in our lives.  Who hasn't soothed their troubled heart with favourite music, listening to birdsong or the ebb and flow of the ocean lapping the sea shore. Alternative therapists have also been employing sound for its healing properties for many years, often being criticized by traditional medicine for promulgating mumbo-jumbo.

Ultrasound however has become a standard tool in medical technology, especially in imaging. But other uses for sound in healing are now being embraced by mainstream medicine. In November 2014 Scientific American reported that sound waves can heal brain disorders. The story here is that soundwaves can help to target therapies directly to brain tumours or areas of the brain for the treatment of conditions such as Parkinson's Disease. Good news that science is catching up with yoga in another area just as it is in the efficacy of meditation.

One of the ways that sound heals is by creating those felt vibrations in the body.  It helps to wake up our attention to the essential vibratory nature of our bodies.  As we become more attuned to this our brain's Default Network, which is essential but does have a negative bias, calms down and another network, the Present Centred Network is able to come to the fore. Essentially we become more "mindful" and in this state anxiety is reduced. Anxiety is a big causative factor in disease, so when anxiety decreases the body's natural healing mechanisms are more able to step up and do their work.

Yoga has always understood this, thus there has been in yoga this pathway of Nada Yoga, or Sound Yoga. Chanting, music, sounding bells or gongs are techniques of nada yoga.

A beautiful way to enjoy the healing power of sound waves is "Soundbath".  In a Soundbath the practitioner skillfully plays a range of mainly percussive instruments, as well as using voice, to create an atmosphere of sound.  The participants usually lay down as in a classic Yoga Nidra and staying awake and alert, experience the sound in their bodies.

We are fortunate in Adelaide to now have Soundbath practitioners available to give us this treat.  If you haven't yet given yourself the gift of a Soundbath, do so soon.

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